A Short Story
I sat at my desk, typing away on my laptop. As I leaned back to take a look at my work, I noticed the tree outside my window moving around furiously, as if in sync with the wind. As I watched the tree sway to and fro, the memories of you and I came back to me. Those tattered corrupted memories that held the times of the two of us quickly filled my mind. Those memories were scarce and scattered, holding the opinions of anyone and everyone who’s ever met either of us. They might have been distasteful or pleasant opinions. Not that we cared either way. ‘How long has it been?’ I thought. ‘One year? Five years? Ten? I can’t seem to remember how long it’s been since I’ve seen you. I wonder if you ever think of me. I wonder if you even remember the years we spent together. Do you think of me at night?’ I thought to myself. I saved my work and closed my laptop. I heard the door creak open, and I looked to where the noise had come from.
“Seric? It’s time for dinner.” I looked at the red-haired woman standing at my door and smiled. I stood up and walked down the stairs of our home with her.
“I think it’s about time that I wrote to him.” I said, smiling to myself.
“Wrote to whom, Seric?” She asked, looking up at me, grinning broadly and tilting her head slightly to the side, making her long curls fall against her cheek and bring out her emerald eyes. I knew she was aware of whom I was talking, and I knew that the only reason she had even asked was because she wanted to hear it from my own mouth. On any other day, I would have laughed and lightly punched he shoulder jokingly, but today was not one of those days, and I decided to humor her.
- 14 years earlier –
‘To my greatest friend,
It’s been a terribly long time since we last saw each other, hasn’t it? How long has it been? My guess is that it was your birthday that we last saw each other, ya? Nigel is doing well, though he acquired a terrible fever last week, and he hasn’t broken out of it since. How is Calica? She always was a jumpy gal, and I bet she still is even with the war going on. We really should get together again. Perhaps we can meet after the war is over.
The second in command has changed again. These young boys and girls with no battle experience keep getting booted to high ranks due to our lack of forces, and then they go out and get themselves killed within the first 20 minutes of battle. It’s truly pathetic. Perhaps you could do something about it, Mr. All-Powerful Boss.
Regarding more serious matters, I have a hunch that the men are starting to suspect something about you and me sending letters to each other, what with us being in different camps and all. Though what they suspect of us I don’t know. I think they’re planning to desert the military; I heard one of the lower ranks discussing it with a commander last night. They better not be thinking about it though, I may the general, but if they go AWOL on us I can’t help them. If they do, I’m going to have to dump them on you, but I know you can handle it.
Another day passes, my friend. Good luck out there.
Your big brother and best friend,
Arthur J Layton
I sighed and took another sip of scotch as I finished reading the letter that had been delivered to my door just moments earlier. I skimmed through the letter I had just read and my eyes once again were brought to the words that bound a promised made by mere children from what I knew to be ages ago. “Another day passes.” I said, sighing again.
My thoughts brought me back to those of my childhood; memories of myself when Arthur and I first decided we would join the military together. Back then, we didn’t know we would be separated into different camps. Who knows whether we would have still made that promise if we knew how far from each other we would be. We still however, made the promise. Our promise was one of two idiots that, regardless of their ages, were still only children on the inside. Our promise was stupid, and I know that now because I know that it is impossible for our promise to be true. But we still made it. Our promise, that we would always be together forever, that even as the days passed our hearts would forever beat as one; it had always been the mark of our friendship. As we grew older, we learned that though we would inevitably be separated one day. Instead of being logical and accepting that, we chose to ignore it. We were only children. I opened my eyes, but closed them again and sighed.
“Is something bothering you, Seric? You keep sighing.” came a soft and tender voice from one of the other rooms. I looked to my right and set my eyes on Calica, standing at the door to our room holding a cup of tea and the morning paper. “No, Cal. I’ve just received a letter from Arthur, that’s all.” I say waving my troubles off and calling her to sit on my lap.
Gladly, the young woman bounced over to me in her usual happy manner and gently set herself on my good leg, leaning her head on my chest. “How long do you think the war is going to last, Seric?” She whispered quietly, as if contemplating the entirety of the war itself.
“I’m not sure honestly. I’ve concluded that if the enemy doesn’t pull anything too problematic out their sleeves, we could finish this damn thing by the end of November, which certainly would be nice, wouldn’t it?” I asked as she silently nodded her head in agreement. “If that’s the case, we could be home by the time that winter hits us.” I looked down to the woman that I had dragged into a full fledged war and I could feel the blood leave my face as I was filled to the brim with regret. Regret for making her come with me and regret of the fact that this bloodshed could have been ended long ago and that it could have been stopped sooner. I leaned down towards her and pressed my forehead against her soft, silky red hair. “I’m sorry. It’ll all be over soon.” I said quietly as I leaned in and pressed my lips softly against her cheek. I felt them rise under my lips as she smiled and wrapped her arms around my neck and brought me into a tight hug. I closed my eyes and hugged her back.
The sweet and tender silence that we shared between the embrace however, did not last long. A loud ‘boom’ came from what seemed to be the edge of the campsite, and it knocked us out of our loving and emotional state. I ordered her to get down into the bunker below our room. The battlefield was no place for emotions, much less my wife. I ran into the next room and threw on my shoulder plates, chest braces and buckled in whatever rest of the uniform I could grab on my way out. I ran into the head house, where I saw the other soldiers who were also preparing for battle. I used the SOS monitor and signaled all other camps to be prepared for the likelihood of an ambush. Grabbing whatever weapons were lying around, I called the troupes together and we ran for the edge of the site. Enemy soldiers were already attempting to infiltrate our grounds, and we were losing soldiers in heavy numbers.
We fought for what seemed like hours, but after a while the enemy troupes seemed to finally be getting weaker. “Enemy troupes are letting up, we can win this!” I called to what was still standing and left of my troupe. “Let’s go!” I called as I shot an enemy soldier in the side of his jaw. I winced, but ignored it. I could not feel remorse for fighting for the liberty of the innocent, even if it meant killing others. I was Sergeant Major of the army for a very good reason, but recently I had felt myself slipping. It would be my greatest downfall if I let such a thing like emotions get to me. I turned my gun to the next man in sight but stopped at what I saw in his eyes. Fear. The man my gun was pointed at was staring right at me, and all I could see in his eyes was fear; nothing else. I cringed at the thought of the pain and suffering he would go through if he got shot, and I cringed harder at the thought of how much more painful it would be for him should he actually survive the shot. I felt tears litter the corners of my eyes and run down the dimples of my cheeks.
“B-boss, what’s wrong?!” One soldier of mine called from beside me. I did not look at the soldier talking to me. I did not answer him. I did not wipe my tears away. I closed my eyes. I looked away.
I felt the wet tears stick to my face as I jumped over the concrete cylinders that my troupes were using as both barricades and protection.
“Boss!” They called as I ran across enemy lines and grabbed the man I had shot in the chest. I threw him over my shoulder and sprinted as hard as I could back to the border of enemy lines and planted my foot firmly on the line as I crossed it. I ran back to the barricade and threw him over the side of it and jumped over after him. The other soldiers did not question why I did it. They didn’t question anything I did. They trusted me to protect their lives and always do what was best for the troupe and the nation. Instead, they nodded to me in a somewhat odd way, as if they appreciated the humanity I shown when I saved the man who would likely have bled out by the end of the battle had I not. I nodded back with a small smile and had the medic take care of him. I grabbed my gun off the ground and brought it back up to my line of sight.
The battle raged on for god knows how long. It seemed it was finally over when someone launched a grenade. “Get back!” screamed a rough voice from the front of the troupe. I heard a large explosion and saw the smoke rise near the front of the troupe. I felt my ears ring loudly at the sound of the grenade’s explosion, and the sound of my troupes screaming was faint and eerie, but I pulled out of the slightly unconscious state the distasteful bomb had put me into quickly. Both the medic and I rushed to the front and began immediate emergency medical treatment while the others continued the battle. It wasn’t until I rose to aid the other soldiers in continuing the fight that I felt a sharp pain run through my collarbone, and I then knew I had been shot. I felt my flesh burst and burn, but I knew I had to keep going. I felt a rush run through my rib cage, my shoulder muscles, and another at my side. I collapsed backwards and the medic came rushing towards me. He wrapped my wounded torso and shoulder blades with bandages that quickly became soaked in my own blood and urged me to keep fighting.
I bitterly raised myself off the ground and picked my gun back up and tried to keep to keep going, but it was useless. A felt my torso throb and ache under the pressure of the bullets within my upper body, and I collapsed again, this time for good. The last thing I heard was the medic and a few of my soldiers calling my name. After that I closed my eyes and let the darkness take me.
I woke up a few hours later. I was informed by Cal after I had healed that we had won the battle, and that I should rest for a bit longer before I did any work. When I first opened my eyes, I looked to my left, expecting to see Cal or my second in command or one of my soldiers or a commander at least. Instead my eyes were caught by a very young man I did not fully recognize, hunched over against the side of my bed, holding a rosary between his hands and praying. He didn’t seem to realize I was awake, but as I was reaching out to shake him, I recognized who he was. It was the young enemy soldier I had saved in the middle of the battle.
“Can I help you?” I asked, straightening my back and looking down at him stoically.
“Ah!” He gasped, looking up at me. “You’re awake! Thank god.” He said, sighing in relief.
“Yes.” I nodded. “What can I do for you?” I asked, smiling slightly.
“Nothing at all, you’ve done enough for me. You saved my life. Thank you.”
I shook my head. “Not at all, it wasn’t supposed to be any kind of favor to you, or anyone for that matter.” I said, looking at him deeply into the eyes. “It was just something I felt was necessary to do. I thought it was right so I did it. I didn’t do it for you, so there’s no thanks needed.” I said, looking out the window. “Anyways, you should go back soon. I’m sure your troupe is waiting for you.” I said honestly, closing my eyes and resting my head against the wall behind me.
“I can’t. I’ve already tried to, but they’ve called me out as a deserter and they won’t let me back in.” He said quietly. I suppose it was at this point that he was actually thinking of asking if he could join my troupe. I however was one step ahead of him.
“So you want to join my troupe then, do you?” I asked, looking down at him, my gaze piercing his.
“Yes. Yes please.” He asked looking at me with a warm, pleading glint in his eyes.
“Hm. What’s your name?” I asked, raising my eyebrow.
“Claude Evans.” He said, staring back at me with the confident politeness of a soldier.
“…Just don’t go and die, got it?” I said, lying back down. “Now get out, I need to rest for training tomorrow, and so do you. 6am sharp. You get late and you’re out of here. Got it?” I say, pressing my head against the pillow and closing my eyes.
“Yes, yes! Thank you so much, Boss!” He said, joyfully. I heard a click as the door closed and I sighed and rolled over. I yawned once, and tiredly pulled the covers up to and over my nose. Then, I closed my eyes, with the deep scent of my own blood filling my nostrils, and more calmly then I had done in a long time, slowly fell asleep.
8 and a half months later, we won the war, and Cal and I finally went home. Just like she had wanted, we spent Christmas together, at home. And somewhere out there, Arthur and Nigel were spending Christmas together too. Knowing them, they were probably just playing chess by their fireplace, but that was how those two were. Arthur and I still wrote to each other even after the war ended, but we rarely saw each other. It was sad really, considering how close we had always been. Cal and Nigel were great friends and Arthur and I were close enough to be siblings, but after a while the letters stopped coming, and I stopped writing back. And the worse part was there was nothing I could do.
Many days passed, and we didn’t meet. Slowly and surely, we drifted apart. I shifted my attention to the company and I hired Claude as secretary. For almost a decade, I diverted my attention to my work and ignored the empty feeling that my heart held after not seeing my friend for so long. In my heart I knew he felt the same way, but another day passed and somewhere on the other side of the world I knew that he was living as what I could only hope to be happily.
And so 4 years later, as Cal and I sat in our brightly lit dining room and ate our dinner, my mind was filled with memories and the times that we four shared. Another day passes, like always. However it was at the time that Cal and I sat at the table eating dinner that I was not aware that in a couple of minutes, I would be surprised by my wife with two men; one of which I had grown up and gone to war with, who were standing on our front porch.
“Now who could that be?”